Drink N’ Food: New Slapdash Café in Zamalek
8am - 12am -
Ahmed El Dahan
Zamalek maintains a long standing reputation for being the hub of cafés in Cairo. Local entrepreneurs are constantly cooking up new ideas, though not all manage to maintain a high standard of food or service.
With a less than creative name, Drink N’ Food is a new café located just off Brazil Street. It’s a small venue with both indoor and outdoor seating areas, filled with plastic chairs and metal top tables. The music playlist blasting inside the venue was short and filled with cliché tracks; expect to suffer through it twice in the time it takes to enjoy the average meal.
We took our seats outside and were soon approached by a polite waiter who handed us a menu, which included typical hot choices such as tea (6LE), Turkish coffee (8LE) and hot chocolate (13LE). In the cold section, fruit smoothies (15LE), milkshakes (18LE) iced teas and coffee (10LE-18LE) were available. Since their name suggests both food and drink, we surprised to learn that the food menu was still unavailable, but that it was set to be launched soon.
However, the waiter informed us that they did have salads, pastas, with shrimp or chicken and mushrooms, and a chicken sandwich. With our stomachs rumbling and little choice, we went ahead and ordered one chicken pasta with mushrooms (24LE), one shrimp pasta with mushrooms (32LE) and a chicken sandwich (19LE). Though we requested an arugula salad, our waiter returned to inform us they were out of greens. To drink, we had a watermelon smoothie, a blueberry milkshake and an orange peach smoothie.
Service was slow, and after waiting 20 minutes our waiter re-appeared with a tray of drinks but no food. Although all the drinks tasted artificial, the best of the three was the blueberry milkshake which was served cool and thick without being overly iced or lumpy. The orange peach smoothie was both exotic and flavourful, although the piece of canned peach pierced to the side of the glass tasted unpleasant. The watermelon smoothie on the other hand was a calamity; too sweet and with a peculiar aftertaste, we couldn’t stomach it.
When our food finally arrived, we were less than impressed to see that our pasta was extremely greasy. Limited to the choice of just penne, both dishes were otherwise presented with generous amounts of chickens and prawns along with a sprinkle of basil and parmesan cheese. Digging in, both dishes were disappointingly bland, leaving us craving more flavour. The chicken pieces were dry and slightly over cooked, making them hard to chew, while the prawns were stiff, stale and far from fresh.
The chicken sandwich was made with a loaf of fresh, tasty bread that had been halved before being stuffed with strips of fried chicken and cheese, accompanied with a side of French fries. Although it was perfectly edible, the dark colour of the chicken lead to the conclusion that the oil it had been prepared with wasn’t fresh. While credit goes to the staff for their politeness, too many short comings gave us an unpleasant, overall experience.
With long waiting times for bland food at high prices, Drink N’ Food will have a tough time surviving in its highly competitive environment. However, it is still a young establishment, with plenty of room for improvement.